Delhi HC Rules Against Public Disclosure of Rejected High Court Judge Recommendations

Supreme Court Collegium

The Delhi High Court has ruled that the reasons for rejecting recommendations for the appointment of high court judges by the Supreme Court collegium cannot be made public, as doing so would be detrimental to the interests of those concerned and could stifle the appointment process.
The high court issued this ruling while dismissing an appeal challenging an order that had rejected a petition seeking a directive for the Supreme Court collegium to provide detailed reasons when refusing to accept recommendations for high court judges.
The court noted that the appointment of judges to the high court or Supreme Court is an integrated, consultative, and non-adversarial process that cannot be challenged in a court of law except on the grounds of inadequate consultation with constitutional functionaries or failure to meet eligibility criteria, or if a transfer is made without the recommendation of the Chief Justice of India.
The bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Tushar Rao Gedela, stated, “Further, publication of reasons for rejection will be detrimental to the interests and standing of individuals whose names have been recommended by the high courts, as the (SC) collegium deliberates and decides based on information that is private to the individual being considered. Making such information public would stifle the appointment process.”
The division bench agreed with the single judge’s observation that the court cannot appeal the subjective satisfaction of the Supreme Court collegium. It emphasized that the law regarding the appointment of judges is well settled and that the Supreme Court has differentiated between the eligibility and suitability of candidates for high court appointments.
Petitioner Rakesh Kumar Gupta had also sought directions for the top court collegium to disclose the “qualifications” considered for appointments as high court judges and to publish monthly data related to pending and disposed recommendations. Gupta, who claimed to be a victim of delays in his case pending in the Rohini district court, expressed concern over the “high” rejection rate of recommendations by the collegium, which he found “extremely disturbing” and indicative of a communication gap between the apex court and high courts regarding appointment criteria. He noted that the rejection rate in 2023 was approximately 35.29 percent, compared to 4.38 percent in 2021.
The single judge had dismissed Gupta’s petition with a cost of Rs 25,000, calling it a “complete waste of judicial time,” stating that Gupta had no locus standi to raise the issue, and noting that he did not explain how he was personally affected. The division bench also dismissed the appeal, advising that if Gupta believes his matters have been delayed, he could file an application for early hearing on the judicial side.

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